Spurs Failure A Relief & Planning Ahead

There’s scant consolation in Tottenham blowing it last night; spectacularly so and without a hint of dodgy lasagna in the air. ‘Spursy’ is the phrase which doesn’t apply to Mauricio Pochettino some in the media claimed. Au contraire, mon ami; it’s exactly the word to use.

We can seek small solace from their failure or more accurately, a huge sigh of relief. Not that Chelsea becoming champions is any better particularly, it’s just not Tottenham who will lift the trophy this year.

After last season and now this, there is a sense that day might come if others don’t invest in their squads and re-invent themselves. Arsenal, I don’t think, will be among them.

Oliver Kay in this morning’s Times underlines why it’s not likely to happen:

Wenger’s recruitment policy has been erratic while he often seems reluctant to change formation. This is the first time since his debut season in 1996-97, for example, that he has used a back three.

The fact that 12 senior players, including Alexis Sánchez and Mesut Özil will be out of contract in the next 13 months suggests there is little planning at Arsenal, even though Wenger seems likely to be around for at least one more season.

The article, paywalled alas, is here.

It essentially compares Wenger with Ferguson which is apples and pears to some extent. The circumstances in both clubs in final years of the Scot’s reign were so different that it is little surprise Arsenal didn’t win trophies.  We were far from perfect and Wenger made mistakes in his methods, and player recruitment.


Comparisons to Wenger either side of the Emirates construction is valid. Until 2005, his recruitment and planning was outstanding for the most part. Every manager makes mistakes, Ferguson was no exception and his tended to be very expensive ones.

Gary Pallister observed:

Sir Alex just managed to seamlessly create a team by thinking four or five years ahead,” Pallister said. “There was a continuity to the teams that he built there and maybe Arsène hasn’t been able to do that in the last few years and that is why he’s at the crossroads in his managerial career, although he has been badly treated by some of the Arsenal supporters.”

When the Emirates was built and the end of the cash-restraint was in sight, was there a plan about squad composition and how the team would play? I’d argue not; similar types of players and let’s be honest, this season’s reversion to a back three isn’t Wenger voluntarily adapting to tactical  innovation. Desperation took hold and it was very much a last resort.

It worked to the extent we’re at Wembley, bravo. The summer is going to decide whether the move to 3-4-3 is permanent. That will require significant investment in the summer, with signings planned and executed with a previously well-hidden efficiency. Executed as in transferred, not transferred to a Texan execution chamber.

Nothing at the moment suggests that is underway, unless you count Arsène popping by Madam Mbappe’s for a cup of tea. The club is mired in contract talks with a dozen of the squad and seemingly no progress on any of them.

End of March, sometime in April; they’ve come and gone. We’re in May and the end of the season is three weeks away. Arsenal, rudderless, are unlikely to find the managerless but we are most definitely leaderless, on and off the pitch.

And Contrast

The situation is baffling on the outside with little credible information coming out. Supposition comes to the fore and the explanations over the delay in revealing the intentions will be interesting. And probably implausible.

It casts a pall over the club and a dark shadow on the abilities of the board. Not that it’s anything new for their directorial skills to be questioned. In the grand scheme of things, unless Kroenke sells his shareholding or they get pangs of conscience, it isn’t going to change any time soon.

We’re told that negativity from the fans is disruptive and we should be positive, encouraging. It’s staggering that the same sages never hint or otherwise that Wenger’s situation is more harmful.

The situation is similar to Ferguson’s initial retirement announcement, the one later rescinded. That season ended badly with United fading. Arsenal’s league campaign is going south as well; a top six finish is by no means certain.

Would the players be more motivated by the certainty of Wenger’s future or is there concern that knowing he is staying may undermine negotiations with others. We’ll see but hanging on to announce the renewal in tandem with a director of football is a mistake; it’s not going to alter the opinions on Wenger radically with the perception of the DofF being a ‘yes man’.

’til Tomorrow.

47 thoughts on “Spurs Failure A Relief & Planning Ahead

  1. Looking forward to a lovely bowls match later at the local church green. It’s worthing zimmers v the lancing comodes.

  2. In one respect Wenger should welcome a DoF. Where else would he find a scapegoat to take the rap when things deteriorate? I’m sure that there will be plenty only too willing to lap it up. Now that “Oil Money!!” is defunct to a great extent they need a new bogey man.

  3. Good afternoon folks, I’d like to put forward an alternative explanation for the apparent stasis at the club.

    Far from being totally supine and incompetent, the board, Gazidis and Dick Law have been beavering away behind the scenes to sign firstly D o F and Wenger’s replacement. They have also identified the replacements necessary to make good the squads all too obvious deficiencies.

    Where player contracts are expiring, those that are deemed surplus to requirements will be allowed to lapse, whilst those of players seen as important members of the squad have been prepared and will be put on the table as soon as the season ends, Wenger departs and the new Head Coach has approved them.

    The new Head Coach will accept that a major priority will be the creation of a non-porous defence, buttressed by a strong defensive midfield. Only after that will emphasis be put on attacking players.

    Initially this may well result in a less attractive playing style, but the improvement in results will boost player confidence and create a winning mentality.

    Creating a sound defensive basis will enable a more expansive style of football in the second half of the season, when realistic assault on the Premiership title can be mounted rather than the annual scramble for fourth place.

    Oh, and pigs might fly!

  4. ramsey on football focus about the players letting wenger down and pressure on the manager…..”at times our concentration hasn’t needed to be where it needs to be every game”…..”we have to put it to the back of our minds (the pressure on wenger/wenger contract situation) and carry on as if he IS our manager, at the end of the day”

    I thought he was the manger Aaron ??!
    Why aren’t they concentrating ??

    We are a donut of a club…..covered in enticing sugar yet with no core, soft as sponge and going stale very quickly. and ultimately not good for your health.

    When they announce his new contract (wenger and/or ramsey) i think i may well take an extended arsenal sabbatical….

  5. Should we really be looking at Spurs’ failures? l don’t think so. We have a lot to look at to bring back the days of glory at Arsenal. I feel we should be asking ourselves why we failed to buy players like Kante, Wanyama, van Aanholt, Wijnaldum, Sissoko and settled for Xhaka & Takuma Asano. Mustafi & Holding were good signings but it still beats me why Wenger opted to play Gabriel instead of Holding in the centre back position whenever Koscielny or Mustafi were out injured. My point is Kroenke might look less ambitious than Dein but Wenger has lost the eye for good players and tactically he is no match for Conte, Pochettino, Guardiola, Klopp, Mourinho, Koeman, Howe, Dyche or even big Sam. Wenger must go.

  6. If I were Wenger I would be embarrassed by the now growing list of my players who are being candid in the media about how:

    – they have lacked concentration an focus at times this year
    – the standard they have produced has not been good enough
    – how other teams have wanted it mor than them in games
    – how they need to be united and fight blah blah blah…..

    Witness pronouncements by:
    Walcott ( who hasn’t been seen since and was rebuked publicly by Wenger)

    Surely this must embarrass Wenger. In any other workplace, for example If my staff said all of this I would be mortified and would see it as my having failed to manage and motivate properly

  7. City move further out of reach with a five nil hammering of Palace. Now up to third.

  8. I am not sure whether I dislike Spurs or Chelsea more. That one is a lose/lose. However I have to admit that I was hoping the Spurs would keep the pressure on Chelsea until the end.

  9. DFS from last night.

    Mourinho is a dickhead and says some stupid things and probably irritates his players when he does not have to. No one would disagree with that. However, the things we have read about Conte and Fergie suggest that they did not care about how their players felt about them and right or wrong they did not worry about damaging a players confidence Arsene’s way of managing players seems to be the polar opposite and my impression is that he tries to hard to keep everyone happy. Mourinho, Pep and Fergie have been the most successful managers in European football in this century and that is irrefutable evidence that all 3 make good judgements regarding which players in their squad give them the best chance to win trophies. No manager who makes his squad decisions based on personnel vendettas is going to be successful irregardless of how much money his owner is willing to spend.

  10. DFS

    What happened to Schneiderlin at ManU and Perez at Arsenal this season happens to lots of players every season and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of times over the years. A player from a smaller club moves to a big club and gets a pay raise but he ends up at the back end of the squad and does not get to play very much. You could argue that Mourinho made a bad decision regarding Schneiderlin but his record suggests that he knows what he is doing. Managers always want to have a relatively set line up and barring injury issues there are not enough minutes to keep all the squad players happy. The last 3 league winners used the same 15 -16 players in every game and any manager would do the same if he could. Perez has played in almost every cup game but not much more which is exactly what you would have expected given the realative lack of injuries in our squad this season.

  11. Bill,

    Mourinho may be a dickhead, but he’s a successful dickhead. If you want a manager for a season or two, one with a good chance to win you a trophy, he’s your man. He’ll spend your money and upset your players but he’ll more than likely win that bit of silverware.

    Then you can sack him.

  12. Conte won this years title with almost the same squad of that Mourinho used when he won. All indications are that Conte does not tolerate lack of effort and does not coddle his players ego’s. It will be very interesting to see how that squad reacts next year compared to how they reacted to Mourinho the year after he won the title. There is always some post title let down I suspect Conte is smart to have learned a lesson from what happened to Mourinho and he will make enough changes and add some new players to keep everything fresh. If I had to guess a new CF and moving Diego Costa down the pecking order might be one of his first priorities.

  13. From all indications Jordan Pickford has been really good in goal for Sunderland. We could sell wojo and use the cash to tempt Sunderland. We would probably come close to break even and get a good young GK without the risk of the spirit destroying inconsistency that Wojo represents.

  14. I only follow the PL but with a bit of scouting there are probably a dozen or more good young GK around Europe like Jordan Pickford or Fraser Forster or Butland that would be “available” with a solid offer.

  15. Bill,

    Bill, Wenger doesn’t try to keep every player happy, does he?

    Shall we make a list of those who he has seriously pissed off?

  16. Can we rely on Cech for next season? With Ospina almost certainly leaving in the summer It would be a risk to put our faith in Martinez. Of those mentioned by Bill I’d go for Jack Butland as number one, if Cech doesn’t like it we could get a reasonable sum for him from either MLS or some Chinese outfit and use Matinez as back-up.

  17. Not often Robbie Savage takes a supporter to the cleaners-but he just did with Darius(a Spurs supporter) on 5 Live.😂😂😂

  18. Bill,

    Also we are going to sell Sczcney who is being chased by Napoli and Juve and buy Pickford, now does that make any sense? See Mignolet for how I feel about Pickford; remember when he was the hotshot from Sunderland then got exposed when he was at Liverpool. Sorry, for yeara I have heard you bang on about players like Elneny not being chased by other clubs and now we have a GK on our books who is being chased by a club that is one of Europe’s best to replace the best GK ever IMHO and in a league which is dominated by defense and GK he is considered 2nd best only behind the Buffon, you want to sell him to go with an unproven GK.

    Sorry mate, that makes no sense to me at all. For all that we mine as well just move forward with Martinez.

  19. C,

    If we could get a decent price for Szczesny I’d sell him in a heartbeat, we’ve seen so much inconsistency from him in the past that confidence in him must be at a very low ebb. I guess if he’s actually the second ranked ‘keeper in Italy, Serie A must be pretty short on talent.

  20. Orson Kaert,

    Or he has simply matured as all GK’s do as they get older. With him it wasn’t talent just consistency and he has become more consistent. Personally, I’d sell both Cech and Ospina who have both shown they aren’t the number 1 going forward. All I know is that the last 2 seasons he has been a major part of Roma’s success and challenging for the title before ultimately falling short. Its funny to think that he won the Golden Gloves then had a bad season then was sent out and we are now tols he is shit. Courtious was nothing short of shit last season. Who are we going to replace him with, Butland who has been inconsistent himself?

  21. C,

    Butland has hardly played for the last two seasons due to injury, from which he has now returned, so he can not really be accused of inconsistency.

  22. Bob

    > Shall we make a list of those who he has seriously pissed off?

    Just list down the ones who’ve gone elsewhere to win medals. That ought to do it.

  23. CBob

    Any big team manager with a deep squad is going to make some of those players unhappy. There is no way around that. I have seen no evidence to suggest that using your whole squad and keeping everyone happy is high on the priority list of successful managers in this century. My own belief is that part of the problem with our clubs culture is Arsene has tried to hard to find excuses for the players when they are underperforming and he has always tried to hard to avoid bruising his players ego’s, but that is just my opinion.

  24. We could add a few who didn’t too, YW, despite Bill trying to weasel out if the point!

  25. I have to admit that I don’t scout the leagues GK so I am just going by what I heard on the radio about Pickford. Myself I believe that Cech is not the GK he was 5 years ago but he would still be more then adequate if he had an organized defense but may be I am wrong. We clearly need to plan for the future and someone like Pickford or Butland could be the back up for a year and then take over. GK is a not like goal scorer and they don’t attract as much attention and I am sure there are more then a dozen good candidates throughout the rest of Europe.


    I am not sure I believe that Juve and Napoli are really chasing Wojo. We have heard stories like that about any player who is potentially on the transfer market. Sounds like agent generated rumors. If its true then we can probably promote a bidding war and get a pretty good price. If Wojo was really that good then the one team I would expect to be desperate to keep him is Roma but the same rumor mill said that they were not interested after last season. We have 5 years worth of evidence during his time at Arsenal to suggest why we would not want to bring Wojo back. The thing that has probably helped him is a new environment and culture. It’s great to have a world class GK but consistency at that position is the most critical thing. The Almunia and Wojo years proved nothing destroys a team faster then an inconsistent GK. There is no way to know whether or not the old demons would return if Wojo came back to Arsenal.

  26. Cbob

    I have spent a lot more keystrokes then anyone criticizing Arsene over the last 9 years so your complaining about him is preaching to the choir. I agree that Arsene has pissed off a lot players but I am sure that every manager in history has done that. In yesterdays comment section DFS listed a whole group of players that have been pissed off at ManU. That is part of football at a big team where you have a whole squad full of players that were stars at their former teams or in the academy, is it not? We just happen to know more about the ones that played for Arsenal because that is the team we follow.

  27. You make me smile, Bill! You always have an answer and I like you for it. Lovely. This wasn’t about criticising Arsene though, it was challenging your argument that Arsene tried to keep everyone happy.

    No, he doesn’t! Nor bloody should he.

  28. I have no clue why Wojo would have any desire to come back to Arsenal if he really has other options. We are not going to sell Cech and based on what happened before, Arsene would have to put Wojo on a very short leash if he started to make blunders again. Wojo has to know that. I guess you could Point to the fact that Courtois was willing to come to Chelsea with Cech still there but Courtois did not have the negative history that Wojo has with Arsenal.

  29. Cbob

    Fair enough. Arsene has not always succeeded but over the years we have complained a lot about how Arsene is to soft on his team and tries to hard to make excuses for them and to avoid bruising their ego’s. To me that suggests that he has tried harder then most managers would have to keep most of his players happy. The fact that so many of them still seem eager to support him against the overwhelming preponderance of evidence which argues that he needs to leave has to suggest that he is doing something to try to keep a lot of them happy. No?

  30. Agreed, Bill. A lot of them but by no means all of them.

    Ergo, he makes a choice about those he seeks to make happy and those he doesn’t.

    That was and remains my point. He makes choices.

  31. Everton has not scored in 3 games. May be next year will be different but they were never really a threat to our 6th place trophy. That is important because 6th is automatic qualification to the Europa league group stages but if we had ended up in 7th we would have had a Europa League qualifier next season. If we lose Alexis and don’t replace his goal scoring we might have a real fight on our hands to hold on to a Europa League spot next season

  32. Its funny Arsene is criticizing Mourinho for calling out players but this season Arsene has publicly gotten after Ozil, Sanchez, Xhaka, Perez, Bellerin, Mustafi and then dropped those players along with Theo for criticizing Arsene and his tactics.

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